Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO can get into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Troy can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally disperses over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. That's why it's important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for discerning faint traces of CO and warning you via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

  • Water heaters
  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood stoves
  • Hot tubs
  • and more

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is usually removed safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

At even higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms at the same time, it can be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to uncover the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Troy. A damaged or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you should install three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

  • One alarm could be mounted close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be set up close to the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak once it’s been located. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Troy to certified experts like Edington Heating & Cooling Inc. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.